There are numerous reasons why so many people suffer mental issues.

We live in a world of relentless, fast-paced digital information which could explain the nations increase in mental illness

The deluge of electronic data—especially news–can be overwhelming and many have simply not yet adapted skills to manage or deflect the disturbances. Such barrage peppers us with feelings of insecurities, fears and impending doom.

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As humans we have a biological instinct for survival with an innate ability to instantly recognize threats and dangers.

Our brain is overloaded!

However, with our sped-up surroundings, our brain circuits are literally overloaded. We’re not taught skills to manage negative thoughts or discern incoming material as fact or fiction. We’re just too busy dealing with the onslaught.

On the other hand, the alleged rise in mental illness may be overstated. Studies show higher incidences of mental illness numbers based on increased use of anti-depressants and other drugs.

It may be that more practitioners are prescribing drugs rather than treating symptoms of depression, grief, or anxiety with lifestyle changes.

Responses to such real-life experiences as the loss of a loved one, losing a job, struggling with finances may manifest in ways that are viewed as mental issues even though they are a normal part of our humanness.

In my opinion, labels of mental illness are given out too freely.

Accepting analysis

When someone is diagnosed as having obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) or social anxiety, they believe it and accept the analysis too readily.

Now they have excuses for behavior that might be out of alignment and they willingly take pharmaceuticals to correct this.

Clearly in some instances, medication is appropriate. But I believe we have been overly indoctrinated into looking for quick fixes instead of cultivating better habits, improved coping mechanisms and more expansive understanding.

For instance, food choices can impact how you feel about yourself and your reactions to the world. If you’re not eating the right balance of nutrient-dense whole foods and healthy fats, your mind and body cannot function properly.

You may experience nervousness, fatigue, lack of focus, poor memory. As an example, sugar which has no nutritional value can cause unhealthy cycles that mimic signs of depression.

Perspectives to consider

There are yet other perspectives from ancient cultures to consider.

Shamans from South America and Africa work in spirit healing and believe mental illness is a merging of incompatible energies in the same field. It is a spiritual crisis and signals the birth of a healer.

Shamans help someone transition in dealing with energy from the spirit realm.  They teach how to integrate these psychic energies rather than stopping them. While this may seem esoteric, there is an emergence of medical practitioners who are beginning to merge eastern and western modalities in treating diseases.

Dr. Mehmet Oz says: “…the next big frontier in medicine is energy medicine. It’s not the mechanistic part of the joints moving. It’s not the chemistry of our body. It’s understanding for the first time how energy influences how we feel.”

Want to feel mentally healthier?

Consider introducing these four lifestyle choices:

1. Take time-out for your brain

Incessant mental chatter may prevent you from being present in your life. If you’re always evaluating, thinking, analyzing, interpreting, you’re chronically sending the brain into high alert. This releases stress hormones stimulating brain activity which when relentless can cause exaggerated fears and panic attacks.

Plus it’s exhausting.  Instead, consciously take a break. Stop watching the news and shut off all electronics. A few times a day, practice what I call “Productivity Pauses.”  Simply take a few minutes to close your eyes, breathe deeply, or do some gentle yawning or stretching to relieve tension and quiet your mind.

2. Get enough sleep

Adults typically require 7 to 8 hours of quality rest. If deprived, both mind and body are compromised; memory and good judgment suffer. Lack of sleep can cause irritability, moodiness and an inability to cope causing anxiety which may be linked to depression and suicide.

Be aware of sleep patterns and make sure you’re developing proper pre-sleep routines to ensure more restorative nighttime hours.

3. Make time for exercise and choose nutritious foods

It’s important to keep the body fit and the mind functioning optimally to improve overall health and wellbeing. Fitness is necessary and can reduce, even eliminate, depression.  You’ll find many supportive plans and programs available at WatchFit.

As mentioned earlier, food is important fuel.

increase in mental illness_2If you eat poorly, you’ll feel crappy. If you choose good quality foods, your body and mind will be nourished, you will feel more balanced, and perform more optimally.

4. Notice feelings and emotions but don’t let them control you

Challenges may need to be addressed but they may not mean you’re mentally unstable. If you’re unsure or you have unmanageable worries or are paralyzed to manage every day tasks, seek help.

Find a professional—mental health expert, physician, life coach…or even a shaman—to explore options.

Understanding us

Rather than a rise in mental illness, perhaps we’re witnessing a rise in deeper understanding about our very being.

Dr. Edgar Mitchell, the 6th astronaut to walk on the moon as part of the Apollo 14 mission had a colossal shift in understanding upon his return from space. As a scientist, he was propelled to found the Institute of Noetic Sciences to explore the uncharted territory of the human mind.

The work of IONS is transforming mind-body medicine from a fringe idea into a vital component of medical centers worldwide.  We now have a greater scientific understanding of how the mind influences our health.

Peggy Sealfon is a personal development coach and author of the best-selling book Escape from Anxiety—Supercharge Your Life with Powerful Strategies from A to Z.

Try her Stress Buster Plan or her Yoga: Body-Mind Builder to experience the mind-body connection for balanced mental health and create the life you deserve.

Connect with Expert Peggy Sealfon 

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